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School children were given a lesson on the Holocaust during a special visit

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PUPILS were given an insight to the atrocities of the Second World War when they were visited by a Holocaust survivor.

Ruth Barnett was just four when she came to England from Germany with her brother Martin as a Jewish refugee in 1939.

They lived with three foster families and in a hostel for the next 10 years. Her Jewish father escaped to Shanghai in China and her non-Jewish mother remained in Germany in hiding until 1945.

She visited Acre Rigg Academy, in Peterlee, to talk to the Year 6 children about her experiences.

She gave a background on the lead-up to the war, Krystallnact, or the Night of Broken Glass, which was a series of co-ordinated attacks on Jews in Nazi Germany, and being transported to England via Kintertransport, a rescue mission that took place in the nine months prior to the war.

Year 6 teacher Liam Dixon said: “Ruth gave us a talk about what it was like to be displaced and constantly referred back to the war, and the bombs and the sirens.

“It was something you can’t get through showing a clip from a website or reading something.”

Mr Dixon said Ruth, who went back to Germany when she was 14 but later returned to England, also linked her experiences with the current day and incidents that are happening around the world and about persecution.

“It was an absolutely brilliant once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the children,” added Mr Dixon. “The children took so much from it.”

Mr Dixon said the youngsters have been learning about the Second World War in their literacy sessions and Ruth’s visit really brought home what went on. Ruth illustrated her talk with DVDs and books on the Holocaust and pictures of her foster homes. He said the children gained a greater understanding about difference in people, as well as about the subject of Judaism which they have been learning about. He thanked Adam Bushnell, who helped to arrange the visit.

 

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